What is happening in our spaces?: Understanding the pattern of international students' behavior in using public spaces in Trondheim
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The availability of scholarships and better collaboration between Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and other universities now makes it easier for students to come to Trondheim. The international students spend time in Trondheim while they may not be adequately prepared to live in the different environment or ready to take the necessary steps to integrate into a new society (Bourrelle, 2013a). However the intercultural contact positively can help international students to develop a greater communicative competence and also increase satisfaction with their experience of studying abroad. As the contemporary cities are facing multicultural urbanism, a ‘successful’ multicultural public space is one where various groups’ sense of comfort is combined with good physical design. Such a public space creates an atmosphere that can nurture many preferences. It fosters social interaction while simultaneously creates distinct "spaces", where individual cultures can be emphasized and celebrated. This thesis tries to investigate how the international students’ interactions are performed in and through everyday lives in different city spaces beyond their home and the university’s spaces. How public spaces alter social behavior of international students, which impact on their well-being and experiences of living in Trondheim? On the other hand, sociability in public spaces is a continuous two-way process, in which people create and modify spaces while at the same time being influenced in various ways by those spaces. Thus it is also important in this thesis, to see how the international students influence and change the environment regardingthe changes in their social interactions and cultural differences. In order to get access to different facets of reality of the international students’ behaviors in using different public spaces, the triangulation of discourse analysis, was a chosen methodology for this research. Triangulation is refering to the mix of data or methods so that diverse viewpoints or multiple perspectives cast light upon a same phenomenon topic" (Olsen, 2004 ,p 3). By combining multiple perspectives, the researcher hopes to overcome the limitations and intrinsic biases of any one perspective, thus the different perspectives converge with a representative reality in this thesis (Bloom, 2012). The research questions, which the methodological approach and the rationality of choosing methods was based on, are as follows; Main question: How do the international students behave with respect to the use of different public spaces in Trondheim? Sub questions: Which public spaces do the international students use to carry out their particular and desired activities in different times of the year? What influences their behavior in using different public spaces at different times of the years? How do the social-physical features of public spaces develop or inhibit the international students’ use of public spaces? Normative questions: How are the international students considered in planning and management process by different corresponding, responsible representatives and public institutions? How this research can influence local urban policy through illustrating the impact of innovative thinking of international students with various background, culture, and interests in order to improve the quality of lives and civil society in Trondheim?